Tuesday 5 May 2015

The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell

And these are they. My final moments. They say a warrior must always be mindful of death, but I never imagined that it would find me like this . . .

Japanese teenager, Sora, is diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). Lonely and isolated, Sora turns to the ancient wisdom of the samurai for guidance and comfort. But he also finds hope in the present; through the internet he finds friends that see him, not just his illness. This is a story of friendship and acceptance, and testing strength in an uncertain future.

It is surprisingly difficult to express my feelings about this book. I literally had all of the feels reading this, from insane joy at their friendship to incredible sadness at Sora's situation. The whole thing was so very sad but powerful and really emphasised the importance of friendship.

Through Sora's difficult and painful story, we see him come to grips with his illness, how his family and friends deal with it - or not, as the case may be - and accepting our fate, no matter how hard that is. Sora especially has a tough time realising his limitations and comes to the horrible but very brave decision.

We also saw the impact of the internet generation, both the good and bad. What I did love was how Sora used chat rooms to connect with other people; we may be often warned of the dangers of strangers on the net but sometimes strangers are just what we need, and people are usually nicer than we give them credit for. However, we also saw the bad side with dangerous spam making the rounds, corrupting poor young minds. It was all completely realistic, showing how ingrained the internet is in our lives and how much we rely on it. 

This book was just incredible. From the setting and Japanese history to the important message of acceptance, it was very much a roller coaster of emotions but an amazing story.

Published 29th January 2015 by Definitions.